R. Zamora Linmark's ROLLING THE R's Returns
Kailua Onstage Arts continues its inaugural season with the disco-flavored Rolling the R's by acclaimed playwright, poet, and author, R. Zamora Linmark, based on his novel of the same name. Set in Kalihi in late '70s when teenagers read Teen Beat magazine, hung posters of Shaun Cassidy in their rooms, and boogied to the disco beat. Edgar Ramirez, a Kalihi teenager "who looks like a Filipino John Travolta," is gay and doesn't care about the taunts from his peers. Edgar and his friends, Katrina and Vicente, along with their classmates, dream, explore their sexuality, and struggle to define their ethnic identities in this surrealistic and gritty story.
For Linmark, writing the book (and later the stage adaptation) was a way "to recapture a moment, mixing memory and imagination. It's my time travel capsule, where the past becomes the present in order to preserve my memories: of this small place called Kalihi, my first home in the United States as an immigrant, and all of the beauty and horror and wackiness of the times."
For director Reiko Ho, bringing to life the schoolmates of Rolling the R's is also a blast from the past: "[They] bring up my childhood, every character is someone I remember from growing up here in the 70's. The flavor of the writing perfectly captures that time period here in Hawaii."
Kailua Onstage Arts is a new, non-profit performing arts company dedicated to presenting works that give voice to the voiceless. "Although not originally on the schedule, KOA had an opportunity to do Rolling the R's" explains Artistic Director Kevin Keaveney. "I was immediately struck by how closely our mission statement synced up with the author's own words about his intent in writing the piece: "I wrote the play out of the necessity and urgency-to give faces and voices to a marginalized community in Hawaii that, at the time, were invisible or rarely seen on stage." Although KOA is based in downtown Kailua, they are making the trip over the mountain for this production. "Because this was an addition to our planned season, we had no venue booked, but a happy confluence of schedules and availability meant we were able to accept The Arts at Marks' gracious offer to host the production."
The ARTS at Marks Garage houses an art gallery, collaborative working space, used bookstore operated by the Friends of the Library and performance space. Presenting partners of The ARTS include Hawaii Shakespeare Festival, PlayBuilders of Hawaii and Hallowbaloo Music + Arts Festival. It is the only non-profit community visual and performing arts center in Honolulu. Founded in 1997, the Hawaii Academy of Performing Arts (DBA The ARTS at Marks Garage) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to transforming the community through the power of the arts and establishing Chinatown, Honolulu as the creative capital of the Pacific.
Photo credit: Kailua Onstage Arts